I Will Always be with You
‘I’ll be gone two nights, three at the most. You’ll be all right, won’t you, Mr Frodo?’
It was mid-October, nearly a week after the
6th, the anniversary of Frodo’s wounding on Weathertop. That day had
passed off without incident, even though it was a dark memory for them
both, but still Sam felt uneasy leaving Frodo on his own at this time…
‘Don’t be silly!’ said Frodo looking up to where Sam was sitting on the wagon loaded with saplings.
‘I’ll be fine! I’ve managed on my own before, you know…’
But still Sam hesitated. It was a dull dark
day, with a biting wind blowing out of the East, and Frodo looked pale
and cold standing with one hand on the pony’s neck.
It had been a long golden summer, the best
anyone could remember in the Shire, but now winter was closing in. Once
the anniversary had passed, Sam’s mind had turned again to what he
loved most; replanting and restoring the ravages of Sharkey’s paid
ruffians in his once leafy Shire. All that year and the one before Sam
had supervised the planting of trees, hedgerows and shrubs all over the
Four Farthings and before the bad weather set in he wanted to restore
the beech avenue in the Eastfarthing that had been hacked down by
‘It’s the best time, Mr Frodo’ he had said, as if justifying his absence to himself .
‘..autumn is the best time to put in
saplings. And if I stay over I can put down some daffodils so the banks
won’t look so bare come spring….’
‘Just go, Sam!’ laughed Frodo. ‘It will give me some peace and quiet to get on with my book….’
But Frodo had a moment of unease when he
heard Rosie would be away as well, visiting her aunt in Bywater. The
good summer had brought untold wealth of apples and blackberrries and
Rosie had volunteered to help with the bottling, and had been delayed.
‘Just make sure the Shire blooms again as it once did….’ Frodo said quietly to Sam as he sat still looking worried on the cart.
So off Sam went. Before he got the sleepy old
horse moving he put a hand in his pocket to make sure he had the box.
He slid his fingers over the polished wood of Lothlórien, and felt the
raised letter ‘G’ on the lid. This was the box Galadriel had given him
so long ago in the Golden Wood, when all the Fellowship received gifts.
Inside it was earth from Lórien, and each time Sam planted a tree or
shrub with great care he placed a pinch of that precious soil in the
bottom of the planting trench. And so in even a short time The Shire
had begun to bloom as never before….
Reassured by the touch of the smooth wood Sam
shook the reins and waved goodbye to Frodo and the cart started forward
and rolled off down the hill, the saplings wrapped in sacking swaying
in the back. Frodo waved till the cart was out of sight, then turned
and walked slowly back up the garden path and into Bag End…
Apart from the wind whispering along the long hall it was strangely quiet inside.
‘Autumn!’ shrugged Frodo to himself and went
on into the study, sat down at the desk, piled high with papers and
maps, and began to write…
After a while he laid down his pen and turned
back the pages. In his account of his part in the Great War of the
Ring, he saw he had written no entry for October 6th, the attack at
‘Now isn’t that silly!’ he said testily to
himself. ‘Afraid of the dark! I better fill that in now, or I will
forget it completely….’
Frodo picked up his pen but as he started to write he heard a sound outside in the hallway.
‘Hello!’ he shouted. ‘Who’s there?’
There was no answer. Frodo waited for a few
moments but heard only the wind booming in the tall trees at the end of
the garden. He shrugged and started again to write. But above the
scratching of the pen he could hear a noise, and it was not wind…he
stopped writing and listened carefully….
It was a sort of flapping and sliding, like
bare feet, but not hobbit feet. Hobbits were light on their feet and
did not shuffle. A tingle ran down Frodo’s spine; he had heard those
flapping feet before. He laid down the pen and realised his hand was
trembling; It could not be Gollum?
It was in Moria he had first heard that
sound, a flapping and dragging. Over all the tramp of feet of the
Fellowship he had heard it, with his keen hobbit ears. It was then he
had his first glimpse of Gollum, and even now he remembered his horror.
But Gollum was gone! Consumed by fire in Mount Doom….wasn’t he? Without
thinking Frodo put his hand to his chest, inside his shirt. His fingers
closed round the Evenstar given to him by Arwen. But to his horror he
realised that he had been feeling not for that but for the Ring….
The dragging suddenly stopped, and in the
silence Frodo heard a noise like exhaled breath. With an exclamation of
fear and anger Frodo leaped to his feet and darted out into the hall
and looked wildly up and down.
There was nothing there. In the hours since
Sam had left darkness had fallen, but by the study light Frodo could
see he had left the front door open. That must be it. Some leaves must
have blown in. Still shaken in spite of himself Frodo walked down the
hall to close the door when a shape flashed past the edge of his
vision. He turned swiftly and saw something shoot round the corner of
the hall into the darkened kitchen. He only had sight of it for a
heartbeat but in that time he caught a glimpse of a trailing snakelike
limb, bony and jointed like the claw of a giant insect.
Now terror closed round Frodo’s heart and he
struggled for breath. Shelob? No, no…that was impossible! Yet Shelob
was not dead, like Gollum. Who could know what had happened to her or
where she was..the old sting wound in his shoulder began to ache …
‘No!’ Frodo said aloud, his voice startlingly loud. ‘Not Gollum or Shelob! What is happening to me…..?’
Almost as if in reply to his words the front
door suddenly flew open with a deafening crash. Frodo leaped in fright,
and looking out saw, silhouetted against the starlight in the round
doorway, a hooded and cloaked figure. The study lamp had blown out and
there was no light so Frodo could not see the figure’s face but where
the eyes should have been there were two pinpricks of red light. From
outside came the sound of the wind whipping the birch trees by the
gate. Frodo could swear he heard his name called…and abruptly the
figure, looking over its shoulder at him, beckoned once then turned and
For some moments Frodo stood rooted to the
spot. He clutched the Elvenstone till his knuckles grew white, but it
felt cold and looking down he saw it had not even a spark of light.
Just a dull flicker of green far down in its depths.
‘I am on my own.’ thought Frodo. Forcing
himself, he put one foot in front of the other till he reached the
door. Then he drew a deep breath and stepped outside.
With night the cloud had thinned and now the
moon showed a yellow arc just above the hill. In the dim sickly light
the familiar garden looked frightening and strange. Strange wizened
patches of white were Sam’s white roses by the door and the hedge was a
rearing dragon. The sweat cooled on his face by the night wind Frodo
walked out along the path and looked round. He saw nothing, and began
to grow calm; perhaps it was some kind of waking dream…
He whirled round. That was no dream, and he knew the voice, but could not bear to remember where he had heard it before...
He looked to where the voice came from and
there, in the faint moonlight, standing in front of the study window,
was the Pale King, the Lord of the Nine…
When Frodo had first seen the Nazgul they
were the Ringwraiths, riders shrouded in black. When Frodo put on the
ring on Weathertop he had seen the Nine, and their Lord, as they had
once been, only turned to ghostly figures, their raiment grey
graveclothes, their silver crowns frosted with icy cold, their faces
deathly white. Now before him Frodo saw that same Witch King, but
dressed in a royal habit as in his life, a rich green gown glinting
with golden embroidery and a dark blue cloak hemmed with red. His long
hair was black and his face pale but only as one cold or tired. His
eyes were bright and sharp and they fixed on Frodo, and he smiled.
‘Do not be afraid, Frodo’ he said in a calm deep voice ‘I will not hurt you….’
Suddenly finding his voice, Frodo shouted;
‘You cannot hurt me! You were destroyed forever, utterly destroyed! This is a dream….’
The apparition merely laughed, a clear high sound. Then he went on in his calm almost hypnotic voice…
‘That is what they told you, those Elves and Men and wizards. Never trust a wizard!’
And the shape laughed again, a sound that
froze the heart within Frodo. He felt faint and could not answer. The
King abruptly stopped laughing and said;
‘Take my hand; then you will see if I am a
dream or not…’ and he held out his hand to Frodo, the skin gleaming
white in the moonlight, a great silver ring set with a blood-red stone
on the forefinger. But Frodo could not move for fear. He stood as if
turned to stone, or as if he was the apparition, clasping his hands
before him. Smiling, the figure approached him, and he had no strength
to turn and run. It reached out its hand and placed it on Frodo’s.
At first it felt cold and hard, like the
carapace of a giant insect. But then it seemed to grow warm. It
imprisoned both Frodo’s hands and he looked up in despair into the grey
‘You were destroyed…’ He faltered ‘That was what it was all about…..why I did it, why we all fought..’
The voice was soft now, deep and almost gentle. It spoke;
‘No, Frodo. I cannot be destroyed. As long as you live I will live. I will always be with you. I am your past….’
The thought of being haunted for all time to
come appalled Frodo, and he shook off the hand and leaped backwards
with a cry. At once the face of the King changed to one of cold fury;
the eyes glowed red, like dull coals and from a scabbard hidden under
its robes it drew a long thin knife. Frodo gazed at it in horror; the
tip was missing.
‘Yes!’ the voice hissed like a coiling snake.
‘The blade broke when I struck you! And even the great Lord Elrond
could not take it all out. A black sliver is still inside you, Frodo,
you are mine, mine till death takes you as well…Ringbearer!’
‘No! No!’ sobbed Frodo, and he turned to run.
But they were standing in Sam’s rose garden,
the one he had planted in front of the study window in that spot where
he had been caught eavesdropping. Sam called it Gandalf’s Garden. Roses
trailed across the top of the window and along the path. One thorny
vine lashed across Frodo’s face drawing blood and another wrapped
itself round his ankle, flinging him to the ground. The Elvenstar round
his neck was snagged and broken and thrown aside and the breath driven
out of him. He lay with his arms outstretched, the moist earth only a
few inches from his face, quite unable to move or flee. From behind a
great gust of wind suddenly rushed across the garden, whirling withered
leaves from the beech hedge, curled and dry and brown, like dead hands.
They struck his face and he could not breath. As once so long ago he
And a woman’s voice, neither that of Arwen nor of Galadriel nor of anyone he knew spoke softly in his ear;
‘Do not be afraid, Frodo! It has no power over you...’
And the sudden wind passed over the garden
with a sound like a cry of loss and rage and peace fell once more on
Bag End. Frodo lay exhausted, but he knew without looking that the
Ghost King was gone. He put his head down on the damp earth and fell
It was Tom Cotton who found him, or rather
Tom's nephew Wuzrun, known to all in Hobbiton as Wart. It was
mid-morning, dull and cold after a night of rain and they were taking a
cartload of firewood up the hill past the gate of Bag End. Tom knew Sam
was away and looked into the garden just to see if all was well.
‘There’s a deal of leaves brought down by
last night’s gale!’ he said to Wart. ‘You go take a brush and sweep the
path for Mr. Frodo…'
'There's someone lying on the ground!' interrupted Wart, catching sight of a white shirt in the grass..
Tom drew up the pony, Mildew, who was never
sorry to be stopped, and calling to Wart to follow him he ran through
the front gate, which for some reason was hanging off its hinges, and
over to the rose garden to where Frodo was lying face down, as if dead.
‘Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo…’ he called, gently
turning him over. There had been heavy rain and Frodo’s clothes and
hair were wet, but Tom thought he could see a flutter of breath.
‘Open the door till we bring him inside!’
Tom ordered Wart as he picked Frodo up in his arms. But when the boy
reached the door it was already open, and the woven mat inside was
soaked, so Tom knew it had been open a long time, and that Frodo had
lain out in the dark and wet and cold all night….
‘Poor creature!’ muttered Tom to himself. ‘What on earth took him outside? And what will Sam say…?’
He carried Frodo inside, down the hall and
into the bedroom, calling to Wart to heat some water. He laid the
unconscious hobbit on the bed and began to unbutton his wet shirt. Wart
ran in with a tower soaked in warm water and Tom carefully sponged away
the blood from the cut under Frodo's eye. As he did so Frodo opened his
eyes, looked wildly round and tried to sit up.
‘Where is the king?’ he cried.
‘King?’ asked Tom, baffled. ‘Well, most likely in Gondor, taking care of his affairs…’
Frodo looked at him in terror.
‘Is he really gone?’
‘Well I don’t know that he was ever here’ said Tom, still bewildered. ‘Not in the Shire, that is….’
‘I don’t think he means King Elessar’ said
Wart, who was not as slow as folk thought him, according to Sam who had
a great liking for the lad. Now he knelt down by the bed and took
Frodo’s hand and placed Arwen’s jewel in it.
‘I found this in the garden, Mr.Frodo. You must have dropped it when you fell….’
As an old hobbit, many years later when
things of such beauty were no longer seen in the world, Wart would
remember how the candlelight danced and sparkled in the depths of the
Frodo raised his hand and gazed at the jewel.
It shed a faint silver light in the dim room, and he felt his terror
grow less. He went to put it on but was too weak. Wart took it from him
and fumbled with the catch. He noticed that the chain was not broken,
but had come undone as if by itself. When he joined it round Frodo’s
neck it seemed to clasp as if by itself. Frodo lay back on the bed
exhausted by the effort. Tom turned to go and fetch the water, but
Frodo called him back;
‘Aye, Mr.Frodo?’ said Tom.
‘Don’t tell Sam…..’